Manilla XC Camp 2013 (Australia)

Manilla XC Camp 2013 (Australia)

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Hello friends!

Manilla (Australia) is in the midst of a stonking good season in 2012-13. In fact, over the last few days I have heard Godfrey Wenness describe it several times as the best season he has seen in 25 years! Since October local pilots have been quietly clocking up the kilometers on a weekly basis and after a relatively quiet January, which saw me tied up with work and spending a lot of time in the office following my mates flights online, I knew I had to get up there for the XC Camp from 2-9 February with my Factor 2 to get amongst it.
Bruce climbing out over Bingarra.
The XC Camp is run by Godfrey annually in the same format as the XC Open Series – open direction, open distance and one point scored per kilometer. Seventy-seven pilots from 15 different countries competed this year.

Initially the weather did look a bit wobbly. Day one was cancelled as un-flyable and day two was blown out for most pilots, although some launched late and managed up to 100k in windy conditions in less than 2 hours, reporting 85-90km/h on glide!

Anyway, I arrived ready to fly on day 3. I was hoping and expecting the weather would come good for the rest of the comp, but never in my wildest dreams did I think we would be treated to 6 stupidly good days in a row. So good that after many long days in the harness and late retrieves, pilots were overheard begging the sky-gods for conditions to blow out just for one day so they could get some rest ;)
Final glide.
I spent my week flying with some great buddies – Alex, Dan and Cam who all fly Mentor 2s, as well as Bruce who flies a Niviuk Artic 3. I also met up with Klaus on his Mentor 3 and got my first look at this lovely glider! After a long month of spectating online I was probably a bit ‘hungry’ in the beginning and did not have a great start to the comp. On day 3 (my first flying day) I flew 60k on what turned out to be a +150k day and then on day 4 I bombed out at 5k on a +200k day. Both occasions I was pushing hard when I should have been in survival mode, as with the rain out west in the recent week conditions were slow to come on. Oopsy-daisy! This was not going as planned at all! As I watched my friends fly over head out west along puffy white cloud streets my landing paddocks were not happy places and to add insult to injury on both occasions I had lobbed deep into the bush looking for climbs over country with no public road access and faced a long work out to my retrieve…

I battled to manage my frustration and from there on in resolved to save my racing until the latter half of the day, when conditions really come on and cloud base lifts.

The fourth day was working a little better earlier under a racey looking sky and I was flying north, feeling good until 30k out. There, despite my resolution, I left a climb well before cloudbase to push on to some gliders climbing in front of me and after a sinky glide I arrived very low, about 3 times tree height over brown paddocks. Ahhh, it was not looking good for our hero – with a strong layer at 1200masl it was not a good day to be low so early. But I dug in, found some zeroes and floated along in this until the climb pinged off about a kilometer further up course line and rocketed me back up through the inversions. Phew! I was back in the game and gave myself a stern talking to about playing the percentages from there on in.

We had been warned about OD in the morning briefing and as we moved up into the Bingarra Valley the clouds were really starting to look very big. Bruce was a little ahead of me and reporting ‘extreme’ lift with 10m/s at the edges of clouds. I spoke to other pilots after landing who experienced 17m/s directly underneath these beasts.
Bruce and Antje climbing out.
We were in a race against time – big clouds to the east and west of our course were overloaded with moisture and began dumping rain just north of Bingarra. The rain to the east was rapidly expanding to close out our courseline and at 130k out I turned west towards Moree to skirt around them. I eventually landed at 160k to answer the call of nature. I was a little disappointed not to make use of the last 90minutes left of flying in the day, but was happy with my flight and really enjoyed myself.

The remainder of the week saw localised south-easters meeting up with a north-easter around 100k out and pilots were using their 3 turn-points to best advantage to maximise their distance in these conditions. Gaggles flew to Moree via the Horton or Bingarra Valleys 3 or 4 days in a row. Multiple inversions and wind-shears appeared on day 4 and made for slightly more technical and slower conditions for the remainder of the week. We were spoiled with beautiful clouds to fly throughout the comp and climbs ranged from 2-7m/s throughout the days.

I re-discovered my XC groove and over the next few days flew distances of 90k, 133k and 100k to finish the comp. Cam, Dan and Alex all flew very well and gave their PBs a nudge during the week on their Mentor 2s. Alex and Dan flew 192k and 123k respectively on day 5. Cam flew sensationally well to get his first ever 100k flight on day 3 and then backed it up with a second 100k’s a few days later. There were a LOT of very happy pilots throughout the week.

I finished up 12th overall and first woman in the comp, flying 600km in 25hours over the 6 days. I was happy with my results and my flights. A big congratulations to all pilots who flew the comp on their many PBs and great flights over the week! In particular, congratulations to Che Golus, who won the comp on his Icepeak 6 with some very impressive and consistent flying.
Out on the flats towards Moree.
I strongly recommend the Manilla XC Camp to any pilots visiting Australia. The weather is generally consistent at this time of year to fly long distances, the comp has a superb, relaxed vibe and there are a lot of top pilots flying in the field that you can learn from. Godfrey has advised that the dates for next year are 1-8 February 2014.

So after a super week of flying the XC Camp is over, but Manilla is so epic this season I am going back in a week for another XC outing with some friends ;) the flying is too good to miss up there!

Happy flights everyone!